I’m not a man who claims to be too well versed in anything, as my dead end day job, middling comedy career and side gig writing blogs for a smutty Bro site will attest. But if watching all 20+ seasons of “Survivor” and 11 years of coaching kids has made me an authority any subjects they’re Reality TV and Youth Football. And those two worlds are colliding every Tuesday night on Esquire Network’s “Friday Night Tykes.” Last night was the fourth episode. And if you haven’t been watching you can no longer call yourself a fan of football, kids, America or human trainwrecks. Because “Friday Night Tykes” has all four. Big, heaping, fat, sloppy, middle-aged psychotic loser shovelfuls of all four.
Again, I’ve been coaching Youth Football now for ten years. Through two sons. With dozens of fellow coaches. Scores of players. Hundreds of parents. And about a million hours spent on a practice field in the heat, the cold, the rain, the darkness; swatting bugs and missing dinner and trying to get kids to quit punching each other in the balls long enough to show me a proper 3-point stance. And I’ve honestly felt like I’ve seen it all. Coaches getting fired for F-bombing the ref. Coaches dropping their whistles and quitting in the middle of practice. A grown man call someone else’s 1o year old son “a pussy.” A coach on his phone on the sidelines in the middle of a game taking college football bets. A parent and a coach having to be separated by a detail cop. An emergency meeting where the parents formed into “Game of Thrones” like armies, the House of My Kid Never Gets to Play vs the House of My Little Superstar Should Never Have to Leave the Field. And I’ve seen situations like the one I’ve been in the last few years with a solid group of coaches who make sure every kid gets to play and the parents are happy. And oh by the way, win championships in the process.
But I was wrong. I hadn’t seen it all. Not even close. A decade spent as a low level defensive assistant for the JV team of a quiet Massachusetts suburb didn’t prepare me for the awesomeness that is youth football in San Antonio. Coaches’ swearing at the kids on the regular. Teaching them to cheap shot on the first play to send a message. A mom running sprints with her kid. Games broadcast on the radio. Recruiting of players. Teaching kids how to make it rain. Kids puking their guts out in 100 degree heat and getting told to get back in there and keep running. The 8 Year Old division on “FNTs” makes the program I’ve been involved in look like a private school Robotics league.
So with that in mind, here’s one Reality TV/Youth Football Coaching Expert’s “Friday Night Tykes” Coaches Power Ranking:
No. 5: Charles Chavarria, Junior Broncos
Chavarria is the unquestioned star of the show. A leather-lunged pure lunatic with a raspy voice who’s seen insanely screaming at kids in every ad and opening montage for the show. His signature move is telling kids to “rip their heads off,” “smack ‘em in the head” and “beat their heads in.” So worrying about CTE is not his thing, obviously. His coaching philosophy is to play the fewest number of kids possible, and he’s not shy about never playing the son of the Mom-ager who puts in dozens of hours a week running the team. And he doesn’t let a little thing like not having a son on the team stop him from coaching or declaring that the games are the most important thing in his life. Literally. His speeches consist of telling the team this is how they learn to win at life and to make the other team cry. But so far all that importance and inspirational life lessons have only led to tears from him. The Jr. Broncos have gotten trounced every game.
No. 4: Keith Dyson, Junior Rockets
It’s hard not to respect President Dyson. He’s a former military guy who speaks calmly, takes pride in running a good program and talks about his coaches being accountable. In one show he was talking about how proud he is of his facility, how he pulls the weeds by hand and tries to keep it clean with the discipline he was taught in the Army. But the Rockets are from the upscale part of town, and resent having to share the field with the Colts, who leave their garbage all over the place. So when the two teams faced each other, Dyson treated the game like a grudge match to show the Colts whose house they were in. All of which sounded good until the Colts smacked them in the mouth. Including a run-up-the-score TD with 5 seconds left in a blowout. All that pride and respect don’t mean jack when you’re getting your ass handed to you in your “house.”
N0. 3: Marceus Goodloe, Colts
Goodloe not only left a bigass UPS box under Dyson’s precious stands with his name and address still on it, he got his team going on a chant of “Fuck the Rockets!” before that game. And taught them the “Make it Rain” gesture because his signature catch phrase is “Get Your Money!” The Rockets had meticulously painted the field with their own logo, and when Goodloe’s star running back put the game out of reach, he ran across the field and Made it Rain right on the logo. Like the old saying goes, it’s not bragging if you back it up. And it’s never too early to teach America’s future leaders the proper way to act in strip clubs.
No. 2: Brian Brashears, Predators
I actually kind of like this guy. He’s the rational, level-headed one of this bunch, which in San Antonio 8 Year Old Football is a relative term. One of those “world’s tallest midget” things. He seems to hit the right balance of not babying kids but not being a psycho, either. And after the way he coached circles around the Jr. Broncos, it seemed like his (relatively) sane approach was paying dividends. Until the Predators got rolled up on by the best program on the show, 49-0. And the architect of that disintegration is…
No. 1: Fred Davis, Outlaws
Fred Davis is the Al Davis of San Antonio. The guy who knows his kids are all from the wrong side of the tracks. Their practice field is a dirt lot. That they come from broken families in the poor section of town and he’s turned it into a point of pride. Outlaws is more than a name; they wear it like a badge of honor, just like the great Raiders teams did. And like the Raiders, he’s got the most psycho fans. When one kids mom was premeditating taunts (“They called Predators but they musta turned vegetarian cuz they ain’t showing it on the field”) Davis’ assistant pulled her aside and told her that everyone already thinks their ghetto and she’s just proving them right. The Outlaws are also just crazy enough that when some parents gripe about playing time they chase them off the field and tell the kids it’s time to take their moms’ tits out of their mouths. When Davis’ kid puked on the field he told him “Fucking stop your crying” and didn’t let him miss a snap. And maybe the best quote of the series so far was from another Outlaws assistant who said “Emotions are a female trait. This is a man’s sport.”
Brilliant. Abusive, dangerous and probably borderline criminal, but brilliant. Like most of “Friday Night Tykes,” the best shitshow on TV. If you’re not watching this or not setting your DVR for it immediately, you just don’t love America. @JerryThornton1